It has taken a long time for Sir John Chilcot to prepare his report on the Labour Party’s ill-judged Iraq war.
It will take time to absorb these millions of words and even more for the political, military and diplomatic lessons to be learned.
A few immediate thoughts.
Many families and individuals have suffered physical and emotional trauma as a result of an unjustified and unjustifiable conflict. Let us hope that the report will give them some of the answers that they have been seeking for years.
We can already observe Labour Party and Tory Party politicians who led and voted us into the war suggesting that in effect ‘with the benefit of hindsight’ they might have acted otherwise.
Chilcot makes it clear that this excuse is untenable. Experts in relevant fields, politicians such as the late Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy and many others – not least one million people of all parties and none who marched to witness the truth – drew attention to the risks at the time.
A majority of Labour Party and Tory Party politicians chose to ignore the evidence.
The Labour Party Government was intent on buttressing our alliance with the United States by seconding George Bush in his desire to be rid of Saddam Hussein. As Chilcot makes clear, the US was the dominant partner and called all the important shots.
This included imposing a completely ineffective plan for governing Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s military defeat.
Our ‘special relationship’ with America is important and necessary e.g. working together within NATO.
However, as Chilcot reminds us, this is not an alliance of equals - we are inevitably subservient to US aims. It is perhaps ironic that his report is published just a few days after the electorate voted to end the other main pillar of our international alliances - our equal partnership with our European Union allies.
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